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Barbecue Pizza

Pizza on the barbecue is a great invention if you want a crusty pizza with a charred edge. I developed these recipes a while back, and while I now make pizza in my Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven, barbecue pizza is still a go-to method for a crowd. It’s also easier than cooking pizza in a conventional oven!

If you haven’t got a pizza oven, wood fired or otherwise, give the barbecue method a go! But you do need a barbecue with a hood, as this method relies on creating a really hot oven environment to cook the pizzas quickly.

Making pizza on the barbecue is really easy. I was delighted with how quick and easy grilling the dough on the barbecue is.

You make a normal pizza yeast dough – then grill it for a minute each side on the bars of a very hot barbecue. Then dress the grilled pizza with your toppings of choice, place on a baking tray and heat on the barbecue on medium heat, with the hood down to simulate an oven.

Fresh, hot, grilled pizza made right in front of your friends! You could even do “make your toppings” with everyone customizing their own pizza.

Really anything goes for toppings – these recipes are just some suggestions that worked for me.

Ingredients
Dough 

2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups Tipo 00 flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings
Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza

1/4 butternut pumpkin, baked in pieces, skin on
1 avocado, sliced
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved 
A few sugar snap peas 
2 spring onions finely chopped
A few slices of taleggio cheese
Rosemary sprigs to garnish

Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza

1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 pear, sliced
2 -3 artichoke hearts, sliced
A handful of crumbled blue cheese (to taste)
Rosemary sprigs

Method
Pizza
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

For the Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza: 

Scatter over the roast pumpkin, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, spring onion and taleggio.

For the Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza:

Scatter over cheddar cheese, spring onions, sliced pear, sliced artichoke hearts and crumbled blue cheese.

Return the pizzas to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears/veggies are crisp and a little charred – about 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the barbecue and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Slice and serve piping hot!

Lockdown Frittata

We’re in lockdown in Sydney, and everyone is turning to cooking to brighten up these wintry days – and nights!

My friend and always inventive cook, John, has been putting out some pretty good dishes from his lockdown hideaway in the northern beaches.

This one is a beauty – a frittata using left over roast veggies as well as fresh veggies, goat’s cheese and eggs of course!

Here’s the recipe. The quantities can be varied – use a little more or less as the mood takes you!

Oh and it’s a one pan dish too! Saves on washing up!

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter

2 rashers of bacon

3 Roma tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon of harissa

2 to 3 cups any left over roast veggies, such as potato, sweet potato, kumera, onions, carrots

A handful of broccoli florets (or broccolini)

8 eggs

1/3 cup milk

Salt and pepper

3 – 4 small pieces goat’s cheese, broken up (about a handful)

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

In an oven proof cast iron pan, fry bacon and tomato in the butter on a low heat, until cooked through.

Add harissa and the left over veggies and mix through.

Steam broccoli until just cooked through, then drain.

Whisk the eggs with the milk and salt and pepper, and add this mixture to the pan, keeping on moderate heat, until it just sets.

Place the broccoli and goat’s cheese on top of the frittata.

Transfer the pan to oven. Bake for 10 minutes until the top is set and the cheese is melted.

Serve with a green salad and enjoy!

Lockdown Weekend Waffles

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If you’re in need of making something indulgent this weekend – waffles may be the answer! And particularly if you’re in a part of Australia that’s in lockdown, I hope this might cheer you up.

I found a good recipe by the inimitable Martha Stewart for buttermilk waffles. Very easy and very quick. However, I must fess up and explain that the first waffles were rather flat and a bit disappointing. So I added spoonful or so of extra flour and anothter 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the remaining mixture. This did the trick and the the rest of the waffles were thick and fluffy! However, I hope that if you followed the inimitable Martha’s recipe as is, it will work out fine for you.

I included my recipe troubleshooting as I always like to be as accurate as possible as I describe my cooking experiences.

Martha’s original recipe is here.

I served the waffles with some cookie crumbs – I crushed up a couple of cookies I had left over. Add a good drizzle of golden syrup, some whipped cream and a few raspberries and strawberries and you’re in the waffle breakfast business!

Ingredients

2 cups plain (all-purpose flour)

2 tablespoons sugar 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda (baking soda)

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 cups buttermilk 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 free-range eggs

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, bi-carbonate of soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs, then add the flour mixture, and mix until batter is just combined.

Heat the waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and brush with a little oil. Pour batter onto the grid, spread batter if necessary, but make sure you don’t overfill the grid. Close the waffle maker and cook until the waffles are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

The waffles will be cooked but maybe a little soft. At least mine were. Put them in the preheated oven for a couple of minutes to crisp up and also to keep them warm.

Make the rest of the waffles in the same way. Serve with golden or maple syrup, whipped cream or yoghurt and fresh fruit – berries are great! And cookie crumbs for some extra luxe!

Cheat’s Gozleme

So this is a great hack if you want a tasty treat based on Turkish gozleme, that staple of food markets and festivals!

I have adapted a recipe for Green Pockets from “Use it All” by the brilliant Cornersmith people, simplifying it a little for a quick make.

You can make the dough a couple of hours ahead of time and get the filling ready just prior to cooking. Or make dough and filling at the same time.

I threw this together – literally – not being that particular with my chopping and filling skills!

Great for a quick lunch or snack, or even a savoury breakfast!

Ingredients

Cheat’s Dough

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

125g Greek yoghurt

190g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Filling

1 1/2 cups of greens eg spinach, rocket, silver beet

1 handful soft herbs eg basil or mint

2 spring onions, white and green parts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

A grind of black pepper

150g crumbled cheese eg feta, ricotta, mozzarella (I definitely recommend feta!)

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Lemon wedges for serving

Method

To make dough, mix all the wet ingredients together. Stir in the flour and bicarb with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky dough. Put the dough onto a floured board and knead by hand for a few minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 4 balls.

You can use the dough now or put in a bowl and cover with cling wrap and leave for an hour.

You could even stick in the fridge for a few hours.

To make the filling, chop all the greens, herbs, spring onions and garlic finely. Sprinkle over the salt and pepper.

Chop whatever cheeses you are using into small pieces.

When ready to make your cheat’s gozleme, take a ball and roll out into circles as thin as you can.

Spread equal amounts of cheese onto half of each circle. Then cover the half circles with all the green ingredients.

Fold the dough over the filling to make a semi circle kind of pastie shape, pinching edges together.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Cook each cheat’s gozleme for about 3 minutes on each side or until brown and speckled. Pressing down the gozleme once you’ve turned them over helps to amalgamate and cook the filling inside.

Remove from the pan and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Chunky Beef Pie

Lockdown Sydney. Winter July 2021.

It’s definitely the time when we need comfort food, preferably something warming and hearty. Pies are perfect!

This one has my go-to beef filling, a lovely casserole of slow cooked beef and tomato. And to make it easy, a simple crust of shop bought puff pastry – all butter if you can get it.

It’s rustic – no need to be too fiddly in the presentation!

Ingredients
Beef Filling

500g shin (gravy) beef or chuck steak or blade steak if you can’t get shin
1 dessertspoon plain flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium brown onions, chopped
2 – 4 shallots (more or less depending on the size of the shallots), chopped
2 x 400g tins whole peeled tomatoes
I large tomato, roughly chopped
200 mls red wine
1 tinful of water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt, black pepper
A bay leaf
A few springs thyme
Few sprigs rosemary

For the pastry – 2 sheets of all butter puff pastry + free-range egg, beaten, for brushing the pastry

Method
Filling

Preheat oven to 140 degrees C.

Place the beef into a ziplock bag with the flour, close and shake the bag to coat the beef pieces in the flour. Heat a heavy based cast iron casserole on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of oil to the casserole.

Add half of the beef pieces and cook for a minute or two to brown the meat, turning to make sure all sides get the heat. This is just to caramelise the meat. Remove the pieces from the casserole and set aside. Add the other half of the beef and caramelise in the same way, removing from the casserole once browned.

Add the other tablespoon of oil, and add the the chopped onions and shallots. Fry over a medium heat until the onions and shallots are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole.

Add the tinned tomatoes, roughly breaking up into the casserole. Add the chopped fresh tomato. Stir in the red wine, and using one of the tomato tins, add a tinful  of water. Stir in the molasses and Worcestershire sauce. Season with a sea salt and black pepper. Tie up the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary with an elastic band or a piece of string, to make a bouquet garnis, and put into the casserole mixture.

Making sure the mixture is simmering, carefully remove the casserole to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until the beef is tender and almost falling apart. You should check after 2 hours, just in case the casserole has cooked a bit dry. If so, you can add some more water. As a general rule, it’s pretty hard to overcook this cut of beef, so 2 1/2 – 3 hours is usually about the right time.

Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the bouquet garnis,  and cool to room temperature.

Making the Pie

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Remove bought puff pastry from the fridge. You will need a pie dish, tin or mould, 18cms or 20cms in diameter. Cut the pastry from each sheet, into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. The bigger round should be at least big enough to fit into the pie dish, covering the base and sides. The other round will need to cover the top of the pie.

Ease the bottom pastry round into the dish. You can trim off any excess from around the edge.

Now it’s time to fill the pie. You won’t need all the filling – fill with enough of the meat mixture to fit comfortably into the pastry. Brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg.

Take the second, smaller round of pastry, cutting or stretching to the size of the top of the pie, making sure you have enough pastry to overlap the top of the pie. You can always trim the excess. Place over the filling, making sure the top pastry meets the bottom pastry all around the pie. Seal the the top and bottom of the pastry by pushing down around the edge with the prongs of a fork.

I did a bit of fancy scoring on the top of the pie (see photo) but it’s not really necessary.

Brush the top of the pie all over with beaten egg, before putting the pie into the hot oven. Cook for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven.

Serve in big slices with a green salad, your sauce of choice and some crusty bread. A glass of red wine goes down well too!

Strawberry and Lemon Pudding

This is so easy! A strawberry and lemon pudding, a lovely hot “saucy” pudding for a cold night. It’s another version of my Peach Pudding I posted last year.

And you can make the pudding with lots of different fruit – apples and pears, with blueberries or raspberries.

Just a note – you don’t need to use lemon juice. Any fruit juice will do for the liquid.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

125g strawberries
100g self raising flour
50g butter cut into small pieces
100g caster sugar
200-250ml* lemon juice, 3-4 lemon slices

* The lemon juice quantity doesn’t have to be too accurate – more juice and the pudding might take a bit longer to cook.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the strawberries in halves. Lay them into a cast iron pan or baking dish.

Tip the self raising flour, butter pieces and caster sugar into a bowl and rub together into a breadcrumb consistency, a bit like making pastry.

Add the lemon juice and roughly mix together.

The mixture should look curdled, but that’s fine as you’re not looking for a cake mixture consistency. Pour the mixture over the strawberries.

If using, player a few thin lemon slices on top. Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pudding is brown on top.

Serve with thick cream or ice cream.

Apple and Ricotta Ciambella

A ciambella is an Italian ring-shaped cake with lots of regional variations, so my research tells me. It’s a breakfast or afternoon tea cake, but it will double nicely as a dessert cake too. I’d never made one before – it looks wonderful so inviting – so I thought I’d give it a go.

If you’re looking for a simple cake that looks fancy and tastes delicious this is for you! The recipe is adapted from a couple of great recipes from Silvia Colloca and SBS Food .

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

2 large apples

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon + extra juice for sprinkling

3 eggs

180g raw sugar

50g extra virgin olive oil

170g ricotta

200 g self-raising flour

75g almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

1 tablespoon golden syrup, warmed,for glazing

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Non fan forced seems to work better for this cake.

Butter and flour any Bundt tin – a plain ring tin or something more fancy!

Peel the apples. Chop one of the apples into small chunks, and the other into thin slices. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent from browning.

Place the eggs and caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and using the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed increasing to medium until the mixture is pale and creamy.

Add the olive oil and ricotta and whisk on a low speed just until the mixture is smooth and free from lumps.

Sift the flour, almond meal and baking powder and fold into the batter.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, orange liqueur and the chopped apple.

Pour the batter into the Bundt tin. Place the apple slices around the ring, overlapping each other.

Put the cake into the oven and bake for about 35–45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the tin, then loosen the cake around the edges with a palette knife.

Carefully turn the cake out onto a plate and then even more carefully turn the cake the right way up.

Brush the top of the cake and apple slices with the warmed golden syrup.

Serve on its own or pretty much with whatever you fancy – I served it as a dessert with a strawberry compote and plenty of lemon curd!

Winter Warmers – Isolation Cooking

We’re in lockdown in Sydney, so it’s back to isolation cooking!

The weather is chilly, so perfect for some hearty fare. I found 4 dishes that fit that description, all cheerful and easy to make. Chilli beef, Yorkshire pudding, treacle glazed steak and chicken risotto.

Here are the links.

Chilli Beef: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2021/02/20/easy-chilli-beef/

Giant Yorkshire Pudding:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/05/08/yorkshire-pudding-with-smoked-salmon-jamie-oliver/

Treacle Glazed Barbecue Steak:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2017/06/09/treacle-glazed-barbecue-steak/

Chicken, Leek and Asparagus Oven Risotto:https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/03/29/chicken-leek-and-asparagus-oven-risotto/

Breakfast Trifle with Granola Dust

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Granola Dust is a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s healthy take on food Everyday Super Food. It’s basically a granola mix blitzed in the food processor until the mix becomes pulverized. Great for serving with fresh fruit, or just sprinkling over muesli to add another texture.

Breakfast Trifle is a heathy and easy brekkie idea, using Granola Dust that you’ve already made up and have in the store cupboard.

To make a Breakfast Trifle, start of with a layer of Greek yoghurt, then add any mixed mixed berries you like, scatter some Granola Dust on top and finish with a drizzle of honey. You can make this in a jar or in a bowl. You don’t have to limit yourself to berries – stone fruit in summer, or poached apples or pears in winter would be great!

You can adjust the quantities depending on whether you’re making breakfast trifle for one or a large one for the family! The idea is to have fairly equal layers of Granola Dust, fruit and yoghurt.

The quantities for Granola Dust in the recipe are what Jamie Oliver specifies in his book. I thought that sounded rather a lot, so I made a quarter of the mix – this gave me half a large jar’s worth of Granola Dust.

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Ingredients

1kg porridge oats

250g unsalted mixed nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews

100g mixed seeds such as chia, poppy,sunflower, sesame, linseed, pumpkin

250g mixed dried fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, sour cherries mango, apricots, figs, sultanas

3 tablespoons quality cocoa powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee

1 orange

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Place the oats, nuts and seeds in a large baking tray. Toss together and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway.

Stir the dried fruit, cocoa and coffee into the mix, finely grate over the orange zest, then in batches, blitz in the food processor till the mixture forms a rough powder or dust.

Transfer to a large glass jar (or jars) to store.

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Beef and Ale Casserole with Cheesy Dumplings

Ingredients

Casserole

1 tablespoon plain flour

500g casserole beef cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 large onion, chopped finely

2-3 carrots, cut into chunks

500mls stout or ale or beer

1 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sugar to season

Bouquet garnis – bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary, tied together

Dumplings

125g self-raising flour

69g cold butter

3/4 cup grated cheese

Method
Pre-heat oven to 140 degrees C.

Dust the beef pieces in the flour and place them in a zip lock bag and shake. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed casserole on the stove top.

Fry the beef in small quantities to avoid “stewing” the meat, until brown on all sides. Remove the beef to a plate, add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, and fry the garlic and onion. Add the carrots and lightly brown.

Return the meat to the casserole. Add the stout, ale or beer. Add the tomatoes, roughly chopping as you mix it in. Fill the tomato tin with water and add to the casserole.

Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and sugar.

Place the bouquet garnis into the casserole.

Cook on a medium heat with lid off for 5 minutes, then transfer the casserole, with lid on, to the pre-heated oven. Cook for about two hours or until beef is very tender. If the beef is still a little tough cook for another half hour.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the dumplings.

Put the flour into a large bowl. Grate the cold butter into the flour. If this is too tricky, just chop it finely. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a splash or two of cold water to help the mixture come together into a dough.

Divide the dough into 12 small balls. Once cooked the balls will swell in size.

Place the dumplings on top of the casserole once the meat is cooked. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the dumplings. Cook, uncovered for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dumplings are golden brown.

Serve at once with a crisp green salad!

You can also refrigerate or freeze portions of the casserole.

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